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Love and Money, a CurtainUp London review CurtainUp
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A CurtainUp London London Review
Love and Money



My wife wasnít dead.
I thought she was dead. At first. But she wasnít.
I thought that seventy thousand pounds worth of debt had just died.

---- David
Love and Money
John Kirk as David
(Photo: Jonathan Keenan)
Dennis Kellyís seven act play, chosen to open the Young Vicís new studio, The Maria, looks at a relationship between Jess (Kellie Bright) and David (John Kirk) out of order in a series of dislocated and chronologically ill sorted scenes. Like its ultra modern, cool white staging, Love and Money is a twenty first century play about the demands placed on those in the platinum credit card set where debt drives the need to earn more and more and where spending is the only way to feel better, which in turn fuels the debt.

The construction of Love and Money is almost in reverse order. It opens with an email romance between a French woman, Sandrine and London based David until she starts asking some questions about his dead wife which have uncomfortable answers. The second scene has Jessís parents feeling angry about a grave memorial to a Greek woman which overlooks their daughterís more modest gravestone. Scene three sees David begging his ex, Val (Claudie Blakely) for a well paid job and her humiliating him. Later scenes look at Jessís spending, maybe she suffers from a version of the shopping disease which has helped propel David into so much debt. The final scene is one I found annoying as Jess philosophises on the meaning of life putting concepts like the big bang and relativity into Essex-speak.

In a way the first scene which is the latest chronologically is the most hopeful. David describes his life in email to the sympathetic Sandrine: "I live this life here where everything is measured in pay grades and pension schemes and sales targets and people like Liam laugh when your orders are cancelled and you are scared of losing your job." Kellyís writing is important but difficult as he describes a "terminally cynical world". But when Jess outlines her touchy feely approach, I was repelled by her simplistic sentiment instead of warming to her.

Anna Fleischleís set is really beautiful, pure white shiny cubes, the boxes of which slide out to change the scenery. It is all so pristine unlike the messy lives which are being described. Matthew Dunster gets convincing performances from his cast of bright young things, and Jessís parents. In the first scene which works very well we never see or hear Sandrine except through Davidís reading her emails to him, which conveys the intimacy and the imagination of e mail romance. Love and Money raises more difficult and edgy questions about the nature of modern society than there are answers.

LOVE AND MONEY
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Matthew Dunster

With: Joanna Bacon, Paul Moriarty, John Kirk, Kellie Bright, Claudie Blakley, Graeme Hawley
Set Design: Anna Fleischle
Lighting: Lucy Carter
Sound: Ian Dickinson
Composer: Olly Fox
Running time: One hour thirty minutes with no interval
Box Office: 020 7928 6363
Booking to 16th December 2007
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 21st November 2006 performance at The Maria, The Young Vic, The Cut, London SE1 (Rail/Tube: Waterloo)
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©Copyright 2006, Elyse Sommer.
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